Watch The Skeptic's Guide to American History

  • 2012
  • 1 Season

Sorting through misconceptions, myths, and half-truths about America's past is a chance to revisit some of the country's greatest episodes, figures, and themes from a fresh perspective and an opportunity to hone the way you think about and interpret the past, the present, and even the future. This course examines many commonly held myths and half-truths about American history.

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Seasons
History Did Not Begin with Us
24. History Did Not Begin with Us
July 13, 2012
Conclude the course with an appreciation that history did not begin with the events of our own lifetime. Explore the antecedents of the civil rights, antiwar, and women's rights movements and the tendency to pronounce any era's major technological advances as the most important in history.
Who Matters in American History?
23. Who Matters in American History?
July 13, 2012
Who in history do we choose to remember, and why? Take in the extraordinary accomplishments of several Americans - including John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and George C. Marshall - whose achievements and influence may well have exceeded those of many of the great figures more vividly remembered.
Myths about American Wars
22. Myths about American Wars
July 13, 2012
Vietnam is far from America's only misunderstood war. This lecture delves into the common myths and misunderstandings shared by many Americans about why the nation's wars have been fought and how the results have been judged.
The Real Blunders of the Vietnam War
21. The Real Blunders of the Vietnam War
July 13, 2012
Why did America fail in Vietnam? Was it flawed military strategy? Political micromanagement? America's domestic antiwar movement? You not only learn the answer to this fundamental question, but you also gain a more nuanced understanding of why the debate has raged to this day.
Was the Cold War Inevitable?
20. Was the Cold War Inevitable?
July 13, 2012
Professor Stoler holds that the cold war was not necessarily destined to happen. In this lecture, he leads you in an analysis of why it took place and lasted so long, with examination along the way of several additional myths regarding this long and dangerous Soviet-American conflict.
World War II Misconceptions and Myths
19. World War II Misconceptions and Myths
July 13, 2012
Is our understanding of "the Good War" correct? Grasp how our reliance on a national mythology makes for not only inaccurate history but a misconceived future because of the long-term effects that myths about the war have had on American policy since 1945.
What Did Roosevelt's New Deal Really Do?
18. What Did Roosevelt's New Deal Really Do?
July 13, 2012
FDR was simultaneously one of the most beloved and most hated of U.S. presidents. Explore what the New Deal attempted and accomplished - as well as its intended and unintended consequences - as you grasp its role in creating the economic and political systems of today's America.
Hoover and the Great Depression Revisited
17. Hoover and the Great Depression Revisited
July 13, 2012
Herbert Hoover came to the White House regarded as both a skilled manager and great humanitarian, yet left the presidency perceived as just the opposite. Gain an understanding of how this could happen through a detailed examination of both his forgotten accomplishments and his often misunderstood failures.
The Roaring Twenties Reconsidered
16. The Roaring Twenties Reconsidered
July 13, 2012
Were the 1920s really a return to isolationism and the values of the late 19th century? Uncover a decade far more complex than is generally believed, as you learn how much of the change begun during the progressive era continued - in many ways setting the stage for contemporary America.
Woodrow Wilson and the Rating of Presidents
15. Woodrow Wilson and the Rating of Presidents
July 13, 2012
How, exactly, should past presidents be judged? A provocative examination of Woodrow Wilson's presidency - judged a great success by some and a profound failure by others - provides an opportunity to explore the broader issues of presidential ratings in general.
Early Progressives Were Not Liberals
14. Early Progressives Were Not Liberals
July 13, 2012
Many liberals see the roots of their philosophy in progressivism, but this is misleading. Learn how progressivism also included many ideas - such as eugenics, limits on free speech, and restrictions on immigration - that would have outraged modern liberals.
Myths about American Isolation and Empire
13. Myths about American Isolation and Empire
July 13, 2012
Was the United States ever as isolationist and opposed to imperialism as is commonly believed? Explore the myth and reality surrounding our historical self-image and learn how America's expansionist history might appear from the perspectives of other nations.
Labor in America - A Strange History
12. Labor in America - A Strange History
July 13, 2012
Although often seen as a dramatic reversal of historical government support for labor, today's efforts to scale back collective bargaining rights are actually a reassertion of policy with a long precedent. Learn that the pro-union policies of the New Deal represent the real break with the past.
Misconceptions about the Original Populists
11. Misconceptions about the Original Populists
July 13, 2012
Is a reference to someone as a "populist" praise or criticism? Does it have any reference to where a person stands on the political spectrum? This lecture analyzes the nation's original populist movement and what links - if any - it has to contemporary namesakes.
The Myth of Laissez-Faire
10. The Myth of Laissez-Faire
July 13, 2012
The great age of post - Civil War industrialization and the enormous levels of national and personal wealth it generated (for some) have often been attributed to a governmental attitude of "hands-off" toward business. Discover that such an attitude did not exist in the United States and that, in fact, it never had.
The Civil War's Actual Turning Points
9. The Civil War's Actual Turning Points
July 13, 2012
Discover how perceptions of Gettysburg as the Civil War's "turning point" are inaccurate. Here, examine three battles that were arguably more important and gain new insights into what determines - in any war - how meaningful a battle really was.
Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?
8. Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?
July 13, 2012
By analyzing this question and the different answers posed by generations of historians, you begin to understand "historiography" - the study of the writing of history - and take a key step in your understanding of history itself.
The Second Great Awakening - Enduring Impacts
7. The Second Great Awakening - Enduring Impacts
July 13, 2012
Grasp how the links between religion and politics that today inspire such powerful positive and negative emotions are nothing new. See how issues born out of the 19th-century's evangelical upheaval - from prison reform to women's suffrage - still engage us today.
Andrew Jackson - An Odd Symbol of Democracy
6. Andrew Jackson - An Odd Symbol of Democracy
July 13, 2012
Andrew Jackson's election ushered in an era marked by much democratic reform. Ironically, as you'll learn, the man who would be seen as the symbol of such reform actually opposed much of it and championed many policies that few today would call democratic.
Confusions about Jefferson and Hamilton
5. Confusions about Jefferson and Hamilton
July 13, 2012
Jefferson and Hamilton held sharply differing views on policy and constitutional interpretation. Learn how their conflict - often thought of in terms of our contemporary understanding of liberalism and conservatism - is actually relevant to us in very different ways from those we imagine.
Washington - Failures and Real Accomplishments
4. Washington - Failures and Real Accomplishments
July 13, 2012
Set aside the hagiography that helped shape George Washington's image and undertake a balanced examination that measures his military and presidential failings against his numerous successes. See how some of the least known of those successes may have been his most important contributions to American history.
The Constitution Did Not Create a Democracy
3. The Constitution Did Not Create a Democracy
July 13, 2012
Gain a nuanced understanding of what the Founders' "original intent" really was and how so many of the questions they grappled with divided them for their entire lives - ultimately being bequeathed to their successors and persisting even to this day.
Neither American nor Revolutionary?
2. Neither American nor Revolutionary?
July 13, 2012
Continue this new approach to understanding history with a look at efforts of the colonists to defend their "rights as Englishmen" and the ironic role played by European tyrannies in helping establish the nation that would forever change the definition of liberty.
Religious Toleration in Colonial America?
1. Religious Toleration in Colonial America?
July 13, 2012
Learn the key elements of a broadened approach to the study of history with this fast-moving examination of the origins of religious and racial tolerance in America. Grasp how the assumptions you've long held can differ dramatically from historical reality. #History
Description

Sorting through misconceptions, myths, and half-truths about America's past is a chance to revisit some of the country's greatest episodes, figures, and themes from a fresh perspective and an opportunity to hone the way you think about and interpret the past, the present, and even the future. This course examines many commonly held myths and half-truths about American history.

The Skeptic's Guide to American History is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on July 13, 2012.

Where to Watch The Skeptic's Guide to American History

The Skeptic's Guide to American History is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Skeptic's Guide to American History on demand at Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.

  • Premiere Date
    July 13, 2012